U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (12A) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

This version of Bizet's Carmen, sung and spoken in Xhosa, relocates it to the volatile setting of a South African shantytown. Pauline Malefane is a powerhouse as the fatal siren who bewitches the sergeant (Andile Tshoni), and gives voice to an amorous perversity that touches the universal: "If you don't want me, then I'm yours/ But if I want you, then be afraid."

Director Mark Dornford-May is working with the ensemble theatre company DDK, with whom he toured Carmen in Europe and America, so he and they seem absolutely at ease with the material - even if the conceit of warbling opera looks at odds with the realistic milieu of a dirt-poor township. Once you get past the disjunction, it can prove exhilarating.

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